On the Colorado River northeast of Arches and very near Moab you can take one of America's most scenic—yet unintimidating—river-raft rides. This is the perfect place to take the family or to learn to kayak with the help of an outfitter. The river rolls by the red Fisher Towers as they rise into the sky in front of the La Sal Mountains. A day trip on this stretch of the river will take you about 15 miles. Outfitters offer full-, half-, or multiday adventures here.
White-water adventures await more adventuresome rafters. Upriver, in narrow, winding Westwater Canyon near the Utah–Colorado border, the Colorado River cuts through the oldest exposed geologic layer on Earth, with craggy black granite jutting out of the water and red sandstone walls towering above. This section of the river is considered highly technical for rafters and kayakers, but dishes out a great white-water experience in a short period of time. Most outfitters offer this trip as a one-day getaway, but you may also take as long as three days to complete the journey. A permit is required from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Moab to run Westwater Canyon.
Outfitters and Expeditions
Canyon Voyages Adventure Co.. This is an excellent choice for rafting or kayaking adventures on the Colorado or Green rivers. Don and Denise Oblak run a friendly, professional company with a retail store and rental shop that's open year-round. Most of their customers take one-day trips, but they also offer multiday itineraries, guided tours, and rentals. It's also the only company that operates a kayak school for those who want to learn how to run the rapids on their own. Ask about stand-up paddleboarding, biking, and horseback riding, too. 211 N. Main St., Moab, Utah, 84532. 435/259–6007; 800/733–6007; www.canyonvoyages.com. From $59.
Holiday River Expeditions. Since 1966, this outfitter has offered one- to eight-day adventures on the San Juan, Green, and Colorado rivers, including inside Canyonlands National Park. They also offer multisport trips, women's retreats, and bike adventures, including the White Rim Trail. 2075 E. Main St., Green River, Utah, 84525. 435/564–3273; 800/624–6323; www.bikeraft.com. From $155.
Sheri Griffith Expeditions. In addition to trips through the white water of Cataract, Westwater, and Desolation canyons, on the Colorado and Green rivers, this company also offers specialty expeditions for women, writers, and families. One of their more luxurious expeditions features dinners cooked by a professional chef and served at linen-covered tables. Cots and other sleeping amenities also make roughing it a little more comfortable. 2231 S. U.S. 191, Moab, Utah, 84532. 435/259–8229; 800/332–2439; www.griffithexp.com. From $82.
Tex's Riverways. The knowledgeable folks here shuttle hikers and boaters up, down, to, and from the Green and Colorado rivers. You can also rent canoes, kayaks, and gear, from coolers to portable toilets (which are required on Utah rivers) for your backpacking or river adventure. Friendly expert advice based on more than 50 years of experience is included, but Tex's doesn't do guided tours. 691 N. 500 W, Moab, Utah, 84532. 435/259–5101; 877/662–2839; www.texsriverways.com.